Henry James’s A Small Boy and Others features a primal scene (Urszene) of making a scene: his aunt tells his cousin Marie, who does not want to go to bed, “don’t make a scene.” This phrase—heard for the first time—opens up life for young Henry as a scene: “The expression, so vivid, so portentous . . . told me so much about life. Life at these intensities clearly became ‘scenes’; but the great thing, the immense illumination, was that we could make them or not as we chose.” It is less the cousin’s performance than the “simple phrase” “don’t make a scene” that grants James insight into the scenic constitution of life and thereby highlights the making, the production of life: the vocabulary of intensities is associated with scenes insofar as scenes, like all effects, are made. James’s shift from making a scene to the “making of” a scene takes us behind the scenes, which, in the case of the scene, may mean that it takes us to another site: the other scene (anderer Schauplatz).
The conference attempts to rethink that other scene opened up by the “making of.” Its focus, then, is less on the events represented on stage but instead on the structural dynamics and intensity, performance and temporality of the scene ‘itself.’ What kind of scenes does the “making of” open up in literature and other media? How is literature complicit with the “scene of writing” (Derrida, Campe)? What entries and appearances, prologues and epilogues, margins, envelopments, intervals, doublings does the other scene of literature generate? To what extent is ending, interruption, constitutive of the scene, to what extent does the scene as scene interrupt itself? Or, in the terms of the “making of” the scene: how does one not make a scene?
Participants: Emily Apter (NYU), Susan Bernstein (Brown), Ruediger Campe (Yale), Cynthia Chase (Cornell), Eric Downing (UNC), Andrea Krauss (NYU), Laurence Rickels (Karlsruhe/NYU), Avital Ronell (NYU), Elisabeth Strowick (NYU), Juliane Vogel (Konstanz), Samuel Weber (Northwestern).
Conference organized by Andrea Krauss and Elisabeth Strowick